Ancient Olympia is related with modern Athens first of all with the modern Olympic Games. Athens was the first city that organised modern Olympic Games back in 1896. Today, every two years there is Olympic Flame Handover Ceremony, the next for Japan Olympics in 2020 (24 July to 9 August 2020).
Ancient Olympia was the religious center of all Greeks, living from ancient Ionia (modern Turkey) to Magna Grecia (modern Italy), where all united were competing in sports. The Games were taking place from the 8th century BC to the 4th century AD, when the Christian Byzantium emperors forbade the “pagan” celebrations. During the Games, the concept of “Olympic Truce” was introduced, so all fights were coming to a pause, so as the athletes have a safe journey to and from ancient Olympia. The prize for the winners was a simple olive oil wreath and of course, glory.
So, Olympia remained hidden for centuries, even during Ottoman occupation of Greece. In 1829, French dug the spot and send the findings at Louvre museum in Paris. The first official excavation took place in 1875, funded by the German state, led by legendary archaeologist Ernst Curtius. Today the archeological place of Olympia is unique, still excavated from the German Archaeological Institute (Deutsches Archäologisches Institut -DAI), located in Athens (where more archaeological institutions are based).
The most famous statue in Olympia was Olympian Zeus, not be confused with the Olympian Zeus temple in Athens. If you want to book a tour between Athens- Olympia, please send us an email here.